The Antwerp Diamond Heist will go into history as one of the biggest diamond heists ever pulled off.
It's even mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the Diamond Heist of the Century!
As you might know, Antwerp is one of the biggest marketplaces of diamonds in the world.
On Monday morning, the 17th of Februari 2003, the Antwerp police, responsable for supervising the diamond neighbourhood and its business, got a call that a heist had taken place at the Antwerp Diamond Centre.
The vault, which was at level - 2 was empty! The value of the stolen diamonds was estimated around 100 million euros!
The police and the justice department were baffeled. The vault of the Antwerp Diamond Centre was at that time, considered as one of the most secure vaults in the world.
How could anyone break in, without being caught?!
The alarm system was still armed. It didn't even notice that the vault was being robbed.
Who could have done this and how...?
At first, the authorities were with their hands in their hair. They had very little clue of what had happened.
Noy, you must now that the diamond heist was noticed on Monday morning, but actually had taken place in the weekend before.
In the Antwerp Diamond Centre, diamonds change hands from Monday till Friday. Friday late afternoon, everything goes nicely in the vault and the vault stays locked until the new work week. The same with the security. In the weekend, there's only a concierge.
As the concierge was supposed to keep an eye out during that weekend, he was interrogated by the police. He didn't see or hear anything. Later, he confessed that he went out that night to a restaurant and a drink, and that he returned around 3 in the night. He had no clue!
Meanwhile, more information about how the robbers got access to the vault, without alarming the alarm system.
What was clear from the start, is that these guys were pros and that they knew their way to the vault as their back garden.
Now, to unlock the vault, a numeric code and a key were necessary.
Apparantly, the key was stored in a tin box on the wall, in the room next door to the vault. This room was closed by a simple wooden door that can be opened by any grandma.
So, that's the key. The code, they must have seen this when the usual gatekeeper opens the vault for the clients.
Still, there were sensors that detect movement, heat, vibration and cameras! How did they manage to fool those?
Well, like I said, these guys were pros in their field and must have tested this back home.
All cameras were covered by black binbags and attached with fine rope.
The vault was opened by its key and code, so no drilling or cutting or any other Medieval tool. Nice and quiet the usual way.
And the heat sensor got fooled by, and this is the best, a self-made structure consisting of a piece of insulation material and a toilet brush...
This is how you get around a sophisticated alarm system!!
Now, how ingenious and planned these robbers were to perform the Antwerp diamond heist, so unprofessional were they, once they ran off.
During their escape that night, and nobody was following them as everybody was unaware of the robbery, one of the robbers panicked and they had to park the car somewhere in a forest in Belgium.
During this panick, the robber threw out a few binbags that held their burglary tools, money, some small diamonds, some paper and so on.
During that week following the heist, a farmer found these bags and called the police.
These bags and their content pointed the police straight to 4 Italians that were known in Italy as Masters in their field.
One of these robbers was a very sleek, elegant and charming man, who had an office in the Antwerp Diamond Centre. This was, of course, to study the building, the vault, who was who and who did what. Extreme detailled information to prepare the Antwerp Diamond Heist was gathered during this time and no one ever suspected him!
The police and the justice department managed to track him down and after long and tedious interrogations, they arrested him for being the brain of the Antwerp Diamond Heist.
The three other Italians were, until today never found, as well as the diamonds. 100 million euro worth of diamonds dissappeared in thin air!
In Belgium, whether you steal a 100 million euros of diamonds or some candy in the shop, you can get only charged for a maximum of 5 years in prison! The Italian masterbrain got eventually 10 years of prison, as they could prove that he was the leader of the gang.
So, the guy sat out his prison time and he is a free man as I'm writing this. With an enormous amount of diamonds, hidden away, I'm sure he and his comrades are living like kings, somewhere on this planet...
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